KAISER PERMANENTE: NURSES WIN RIGHT TO QUALITY DATA
The California Nurses Association "won a big legal victory"This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Monday when a National Labor Relations Board administrative law
judge ruled that Kaiser Permanente "must provide the nurses with
data on the quality of patient care within its hospitals and
clinics," reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Kaiser said it
has not decided whether to appeal the judge's decree, which said
"Kaiser had violated labor laws by refusing to turn over data
requested by the nurses' union on such information as the rate of
infections contracted by patients in Kaiser hospitals."
The Chronicle notes that the nurses' association has been
involved in "bitter" contract negotiations with Kaiser for about
a year, with the "two sides ... almost ... speaking different
languages." CNA, which represents 7,500 Kaiser nurses, has
focused on issues of "standards of patient care," while Kaiser
has chosen to focus on "wage and benefit cuts." Kaiser refused
to give the nurses confidential data on "health care indicators,"
contending the nurses were merely trying to stall contract
negotiations; however, the nurses argued that "standards of
patient care ... have deteriorated sharply in recent years" at
Kaiser facilities. In his ruling, the NLRB judge decided that
the nurses should receive the "quality-of-care data" because the
contract discussions include "the nurses' own health benefits."
And this "could help the nurses know whether they want Kaiser" or
another health plan.
Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of CNA, said the ruling
"means that health care professionals finally have an avenue in
which to address quality-of-care issues." However, Kaiser
spokesman Tom Debley said, "It was our position that the amount
and breadth of the material they were asking for was beyond the
scope of contract negotiations." Kaiser can appeal the Monday
ruling to the full NLRB in Washington, DC. However, as of
yesterday, the HMO had not reached a decision regarding an
appeal, Chronicle reports (DeBare, 10/29).